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EPA reports expansion of Nicor gas PCB investigation


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today reported that the investigation into PCB-contaminated liquids in the Nicor gas system is expanding beyond Park Ridge, Ill.

EPA is in the process of an in-depth review of 5 years of Nicor maintenance records. A preliminary review revealed possible problems at a number of locations elsewhere in northern Illinois. Based on follow-up testing at these locations, EPA will determine what additional steps are necessary. EPA has also requested information on liquid and PCB detection from seven other gas companies in the region.

In June, Nicor contacted EPA to report the discovery of PCBs in gas meters at four Park Ridge homes and the subsequent cleanups made. EPA inspectors did immediate follow-up testing of the indoor air, soil and hard surfaces and found small amounts of contamination in the soil outside two of the homes. The contamination likely occurred from spills as Nicor replaced the meters. Nicor was required to do a second cleanup. EPA followed up with additional sampling which revealed non-detect levels of PCBs.

EPA required Nicor to test residences and other buildings in Park Ridge and has been monitoring and verifying test results and cleanups since then, based on applicable federal regulations. A total of 80 inspections in July and August are currently being scheduled in Park Ridge. As of today, 35 meters have been tested. Two of the meters showed PCB contamination and have since been tested, cleaned up and retested with no sign of PCBs.

PCBs are mixtures of synthetic chemicals ranging from oily liquids to waxy solids. Because of evidence that PCBs persist in the environment and cause harmful effects, domestic manufacture of commercial mixtures stopped in 1977, existing PCBs continue to be used. EPA data indicates that PCBs are probable cancer-causing substances.


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